Swardeston’s four Norfolk players all played a key role as the county moved to within one match of another Lord’s final appearance.
Bud Bailey grabbed five wickets in an impressive 10 over spell, after Michael Eccles had claimed the first two Lincolnshire wickets to fall. Mark Thomas bowled his usual tight spell, only conceding 35 runs and picking up one victim and when Norfolk were in sight of victory George Walker stepped up to strike three boundaries in an unbeaten 15 to steady any nerves and take Norfolk to victory.
A faultless unbeaten century by Trevor Ward at windswept Grantham had been the heartbeat of the Norfolk innings. Ward made 106 not out to guide his side to victory by four wickets against Lincolnshire in their MCCA Knockout Trophy quarter-final.
It was the home side’s first defeat in any competition this season. Norfolk now face Devon in the semi-final at Manor Park on Sunday, July 13, as they attempt to win the Minor Counties one-day title for the fifth time.
Set a target of 236, Norfolk passed it with nearly five overs to spare, 40-year-old Ward batting from the second over onwards and striking 18 boundaries. He shared stands of 81 for the second wicket with skipper Carl Rogers (31), and 109 for the fourth wicket with Chris Borrett, who hit two sixes and five fours in a vital 53.
And, when a late innings wobble left Norfolk on 217 for 6 with 19 still needed, George Walker joined Ward and struck three fours in an unbeaten 15 to clinch the semi-final place.
There were other heroes on a day dogged by strong winds and persistent showers, notably 18-year-old paceman Bud Bailey. The 6ft 7in bowler, Norfolk-born but attached to the Northamptonshire Academy, took five wickets for 40 on his first appearance of the season as Lincolnshire, put into bat by Rogers, made 235 for 9 in their 50 overs. Four of Bailey’s victims were caught behind by wicketkeeper Stephen Gray, who enjoyed an excellent day, having earlier produced a splendid diving catch off the bowling of Michael Eccles to remove dangerous opener Martyn Dobson.
The other main threat with the bat was Mat Dowman, who arrived with the score on 6 for 1 and held the Lincolnshire innings together with his 109, which included three sixes and 10 fours. His only lasting support came from wicketkeeper Ollie Burford, who made 36 out of a stand of 82 with Dowman for the sixth wicket before becoming one of Bailey’s five victims.
Left-hander Dowman was eventually eighth out with the total on 212, but the Lincolnshire effort was boosted by a last wicket stand of 22 between Brett Houston and Andy Carter.
Norfolk’s reply began badly when Carter removed Carl Amos without scoring in the second over, but Ward and Rogers steadied the ship until Carter took an excellent catch at long-off to dismiss the visiting skipper.
Jaik Mickleburgh departed quickly but the partnership between Ward and Borrett, which added 109 in 18 overs, put the visitors in the driving seat and although Borrett went soon after reaching his half-century, that semi-final place was almost in the bag.
Player/coach Chris Brown was delighted with Norfolk’s performance in difficult conditions.
He said: “It’s a great team effort with some good disciplined bowling in good areas and a superb hundred from Trevor Ward, backed up by Chris Borrett and Carl Rogers.
“At one point we thought we might be chasing 270 or 280 but we chipped away and got wickets at the right time and in the end we won with four overs to spare and four wickets in hand.”
Brown paid special tribute to Bailey and Ward.
He said: “It’s Bud’s second game for Norfolk, he’s enjoyed every minute of it and we hope if he’s not in the Northants first team when we play the semi-final, he will be available again.
“Trevor played a chanceless innings and played really well and it was a super knock. Stephen Gray had an excellent game, too. His footwork and his glove-work were excellent.
Norfolk had coped well with the conditions, said Brown.
“It was blustery, the ball was a little bit wet and it was freezing and when it’s like that you have just got to roll your sleeves up and knuckle down.”
Brown said Norfolk fancied their chances against Devon, who they beat in the final at Lord’s in 2001, his first season with the county. The other semi-final will be between Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
MC Dobson c Gray b Eccles 11
PNG Morgan c-b Eccles 2
MP Dowman b Thomas 109
V Atri c Gray b Bailey 19
PG Cook c Gray b Bailey 5
RW Cook b Brown 9
OE Burford c Gray b Bailey 36
SJ Airey c Gray b Bailey 0
BW Houston not out 9
EJ Wilson b Bailey 0
A Carter not out 13
# Total (9 wkts) 235
Bowling: Eccles 9-0-44-2, Thomas 9-0-35-1, Bailey 10-1-40-5, Walker 10-0-50-0, Brown 10-1-42-1, Rogers 2-0-13-0.
Fall: 1-6, 2-44, 3-83, 4-90, 5-123, 6-205, 7-207, 8-121, 9-213.
C Amos c PG Cook b Carter 0
CJ Rogers c Carter b Dowman 31
TR Ward not out 106
JC Mickleburgh lbw Airey 7
CR Borrett c-b Carter 53
SK Gray c Dobson b Airey 2
C Brown c Dowman b Airey 0
GW Walker not out 15
# Total (6 wkts) 238
Bowling: Wilson 9-2-45-0, Carter 9.2-0-59-2, Houston 8-0-33-0, Airey 10-1-44-3, Dowman 5-0-31-1, Dobson 4-0-20-0.
Fall: 1-1, 2-82, 3-96, 4-205, 5-217, 6-217.